Yowamushi Pedal – 07

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You can do it, Legs!

It’s hard to find much fault with Yowmushi Pedal as far as I’m concerned.  For a sports series with a difference, this one does pretty much everything I’m looking for.  Great main character, deep supporting cast, detailed and accurate when it comes to the sports.  This is the sort of show that got me invested in sports series in the first place, and no matter how great a manga is, it’s somehow just more satisfying to watch them play out on-screen (assuming they’re adapted as well as this one).  The only problem is they’re even better when you find them after the fact and marathon them – because the wait between episodes is torture.

I’ll get to some of the things that made this ep such a winner for me in a minute, but first things first is Onoda.  Seriously, this kid is so goddamm easy to root for.  His attitude is refreshingly different from what we usually see from anime MCs, sports and otherwise – he just jumps on and goes, usually with a big smile on his face.  He manages to be positive without being goody-goody, probably because he’s clearly paid his dues in loneliness and social isolation.  He’s freakishly good at his chosen sport, but there’s a realistic reason for that – he’s used to lugging that monster of a mommy bike up hill and over dale, so riding a road racer is like a vacation for him.  In his own words, “I can go twice as fast with the same effort!”

It’s really no wonder the third-years in the recovery van are so unabashedly rooting for him at this point – the Kanzaki siblings certainly already were.  Tadokoro is the first to join the Onoda harem, despite Makishima’s skepticism – but it’s clear Kinjou is actively on-board too.  As I mentioned last week I like the fact that the third-years here aren’t scary ogres – just experienced and talented, but more interested in seeing what the new kids can do than hazing them.  And Kinjou certainly sees that Onoda is something special, just from being able to climb on a racing bike for the first time and bully his way up the mountain.  But he’s doing a lot more than that.

In fact, Onoda chews the other freshmen up and spits them out pretty quickly, reeling them in (in truth he seems not even to notice them as he blows by) not long after the serious climbing starts – in and of itself a pretty impressive achievement.  But the fact is between the start on the mamachari the five minutes lost when he laid it down, Onoda is 8 minutes behind the two experienced cyclists in front – a ridiculous deficit in a 60K race, in theory impossible to make up.  Even when Onoda continues his 90 RPM cadence once the climbing starts, Makishima points out that he’ll never catch up.  Kinjou shows his stuff here by laying out the truth for Onoda and giving him a choice – ride steadily as he is and finish third, a remarkable achievement all things considered – or ride at an insane pace to catch up, likely destroying himself in the process and forcing an abandonment.

It’s no mystery what Onoda is going to do – racing with Imaishi and Naruko is why he joined the club in the first place.  And it’s worth pointing out that the shop-girl at the base of the climb told the oji-san (in a pretty hilarious scene, generally) “That last boy may have been the fastest of all.”  Meanwhile Imaishi and Naruko are feeling each other out as breakaway riders do, with the added complication that neither really knows what the other is capable of.  Imaishi suspects, as he should (and correctly I might add) that for all his bluster Naruko isn’t at his best on climbs – most sprinters aren’t.  And he’s plotting just the right moment to see whether the little redhead has the kintama to keep up with an acceleration on a climb.  These two are acting as if they’re the only ones in the race – and there’s no reason they shouldn’t.

Here’s the interesting question about what happens next – did Kinjou ask the strange foreigner (“Great!  Desu ne?”) to buy Onoda some time by slowing the leaders down?  It would be a bit of a sneaky move, but in truth the status quo is no way to measure what Onoda is truly capable of – what might he have been able to do if he’d been on a road racer from the beginning?  That odd fellow is in fact one Mr. Pierre (Horiuchi Kenyuu), another major piece of the puzzle slid into place – Imaishi has a guess about who he might be, based on his clear knowledge of cycling and the fact that he’s got Kinjou’s number on his sumaho.  And he certainly manages to slow the two leaders down with his “I’m fine – I just got excited and stopped breathing.” (I’ll have to remember that one).

Whether that sidetrack was an intentional attempt to level the playing field or not, it probably cost Red–head and Tall Boy about two minutes – plus the time it takes them to get back into their cadence.  That’s critical, because when Onoda catches up (and it seems more a “when” than if at this point) the question is whether he’ll have so thoroughly drained himself in the effort that he has nothing left in the tank.  Fortunately for him once the summit is reached the next phase of the race is going to be a totally different sort of challenge, but one that can as mentally draining as the climb is physically – safely descending a steep and winding mountain road without losing too much precious speed to braking.  It’s probably the part of the race where experience is most crucial – and that’s yet one more area where Onoda isn’t fighting those two on a level playing field.

Now – just what the heck is the story here?

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  1. c

    Visit from indonesian……….

  2. e

    I suspect someone is a Magical Emi fan http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=anime&aid=1444 she worked with a whole team of magicians (and my favorite beauty mark senpai even has a vaguely similar hair styling in the photo X,D) .

    My main doubt about Onda's chances since he switched bikes last episode depended mostly from his lack of drinking supply but now that that's been taken care of I'm feeling quite optimistic yey X,D.
    And Kanzaki understands him so well. Ah the sweet smell of romance potential.
    Also Naruko is a poop guy alright. I give up :,).
    The gaijin sequence was quite entertaining as chara introdcution and plot devices go. Well done YP.
    I tried racing pants a few times but I could not really get used to them ( I should have gotten this as another hint this was not my sport to practice I guess… ) . But watching this is making a bit nostalgic… and I feel like rooting for Onoda even more.

  3. b

    Wait, Onoda hasn't changed gears yet, has he? I believe there are different gears appropriate for different conditions and Onoda hasn't changed gears from the flats to the climb. Or am I getting ahead of the plot and that's for later. I was kinda hoping Kinjou would teach him how to change gears when he gave him the water bottle or maybe notice it when they were alongside him.
    Either way, another exciting episode with another irritating cliffhanger. Time just flies when watching this. Really enjoying this a lot.
    And those sempais are looking fabulous there in that hidden picture. Kinninarimasu!

  4. I don't think we know that he hasn't changed gears, do we?

  5. i

    'Meanwhile Imaishi and Naruko are feeling each other out' – that line lit the Fujoshis on fire.

    Experience is not the most important thing going downhill. When speeds can reach up to 100 Km/h on road racers, what matters is Kintamas and I'm sure Onoda has them.

  6. l

    The thought that the captain arranged with the presumed coach to slow down the leads hadn't occurred to me. You're …. you're devious for having thought that, Enzo.

    I still think and have thought so all along that Naruko's and Imaishi's places at the next competition are guaranteed. What the captain is really looking for now, I believe, is for the club leaders for next year. Who are the best 1st years to groom for leadership during the 3rd years' last year? Who will become the team's core once the 3rd years leave? I think that's what the captain is assessing Onoda for rather than whether Onoda can take a spot in the next immediate competition.

  7. t

    YP is doing what a really really good sports want and should do – succeeding to be better every episode. each episode I am like "wow, it iss best episode so far".
    that feeling was also like that in the manga. that really appeal to me when I read the manga, and it's working here in the anime naturally.

    no doubt, Onoda is making that happen. being so special MC. he is lovely, funny, competitive at the same time. but it's not all, around him actually there is Naruko, Imaizumi, Kanzaki, third years and so. so he is like an optimal MC serving as the axis of the series. yet, without the others around him, he wouldn't be what he is now (and what he'll be later :P)

  8. H

    I was actually somewhat surprised they skipped mentioning so many things that at least I found difficult to do on a road bike, like dealing with a drinks bottle. The reach down to the clip can be disorienting, and even reaching out to take something from someone else can be difficult to do, since instead of the weight on both your arms balancing each other, now you have to stiffen your other arm on the bars and move your center of gravity off to the side. Given how they've focused on other small aspects of the experience related to Onoda's greenness, I thought they might have mentioned either or both.

    Encouraging Onoda to race to failure is also good strategy from the standpoint of the leadership of the club. Onoda's an enigma: He's so far out of their expectations, they have no clue what he can do. So egging him on to see if they can break him will give them the ability to see where his conditioning weakness is, rather than just his technical weakness. If this was a race that 'mattered', rather than an evaluation race, he'd likely have been encouraged to go for a podium. But since the main point is to determine how these first years can do, pushing him is a good idea.

  9. Yes it does make sense, but thid is a race that matters, because only the top two grommets get to participate at inter-highs, at least according to Kinjou.

  10. H

    Well, it would be pretty high on the scale of irresponsbility, no matter what Kinjou said, to have Onoda participate in the inter-high bike race (which I took as a fairly short time frame away) as a complete novice instead of either Imaizumi or Naruko. If they think their team is strong, then putting a total rookie on, instead of someone who has some experience and is still talented, is just going to handicap them. And if Onoda was a good teammate, he'd realize the same thing.

    Now, if the limitation to 5 is not set by the race organizers (but by Kinjou), and they can go to 6, then including him is a good move. But still, they'd like to see how he does in a failure situation, rather than a 'consolidate' position. And if they can go to 6 participants, then again, this race doesn't really matter, since they can change their arbitrary rules as they see fit.

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